On June 4, 1989, thousands of students camped out in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in a peaceful protest for democratic governance and free-market reforms. Members of my family were among the organizers; they had published books catalyzing this movement. I was left with an indelible impression — a small group of people can transform lives of an entire country.
That night, the Chinese government rolled tanks into Tiananmen Square, which smashed into the tents and killed the protesters sleeping inside. Friends were killed; others were put in jail; many fled the country.
My parents and I, among the lucky ones, moved to Singapore. From there, we moved to the United States.
During our first few years in America, we rented a room in a group house and slept on mattresses found at a dumpster. My mom, a former physician, worked as a live-in caretaker for a formidable journalism family. It was the highest paying job she could find.
My dad attended graduate school during the day and worked as a Chinese food deliveryman at night. To help boost my Dad’s customer base, I hand-delivered menus to homes in his region.
Seeing my parents’ lives unravel as we were uprooted from China and dropped onto America, just like seeing the students of Beijing fail tragically in their fight for reform, taught me that personal sacrifices and failures are integral to the quest for progress.
Much like the setbacks my family had endured and the tragedies we witnessed, my personal journey has been studded with difficulties, with more challenges yet to come. I learned that it takes decades of commitment to push healthcare forward, and I don’t expect dividends in a matter of years.
Despite uncertain payoffs, I chose this path because I want to create the change I envision for healthcare. What matters to me most is my personal reservoir of resilience.
Life can take us ten steps back before unveiling that next step forward. When I see China’s booming economy today, I marvel at this progress and I think — look how far we’ve come since that night in Tiananmen Square. I am inspired by the people who lost that night in contribution to a cause that now makes a world of difference in the lives of many others.
Setbacks are inevitable, but they can be overcome with the collective strength of purpose and determination. Twenty years after that night in Tiananmen Square, my Dad started a non-profit to build technical schools for kids in rural China, called AiXin.
I too, through my life’s work, want to pave a path of progress for our society and leave my generation, and generations beyond, marveling upon ourselves thinking — look how far we’ve come.
Thank you for your time in reviewing my application.
“Mommy, where are you? Daddy, where is mommy?” My three-year-old self is frantically running around the apartment from room to room looking for her mommy; I cannot find her anywhere. Daddy walks over and gently lifts me up, telling me everything will be all right. Time blurs together and suddenly, we have arrived at the hospital.
“Look at her. She’s your baby sister.” I curiously walk over to the crib on the right of my mommy’s bed and stare down at this so-called “sister.” Suddenly, her mouth twitches as she chews on a strange object.
Memories. My first was of March 2nd, 1998, the day my sister was born. Remembering the fear of not knowing where my mother was and the smell of the hospital, I can only now fully appreciate what I have witnessed and felt. The moments I have shared with my family and friends and the memories that have consequently formed are what I treasure the most. From good memories to bad memories, long distances and goodbyes do not have the power to rob me of those experiences. As my parents have made a photo album of me growing up, I, too, have started my own, of pets, friends, and family. Looking at my pictures, I can relive each moment.
Memories. They teach and advise me, never letting me forget what I have done wrong to help me improve. Thinking back to when I played tag on the road, I realize the risk I had taken. My parents said I had put myself “in jeopardy,” but at that time, I did not understand how. Through my experiences, I have learned how to react in situations similar to those in the past. While the game of tag may seem insignificant, it is still a memory that has taught me the basic rules of safety. My memories, my guardian angels, not only provide a path away from harm, but also allow moments of my life that have made me happy to be replayed.
Memories. They create the person I am today and lead me to become an even better individual. Like an old Chinese saying, “the remembrance of the past is the teacher of the future.”
Anonymous Student. "What matters to you, and why?" StudyNotes.org. Study Notes, LLC., 11 Nov. 2015. Web. 11 Mar. 2018. <https://www.apstudynotes.org/stanford/what-matters-to-you-and-why/>.